When excellence comes home

Reblogged from Science on the Net

Two aspects remain etched firmly after a talk with Andrea Lunardi and Graziano Martello, two “made in Italy” brains that have decided to return to work in Italy after years of research abroad. First, go abroad tout courtis not an essential step; the difference is choosing centres of excellence abroad. Second: a PhD in Italy is a great resource, not to be missed, as long as you choose a good group to work with.

These two young men, 43 years old Lunardi and 34 years old Martello, are certainly not the rule in our country. Two researchers that decide to bring their skills in Italy thanks to two grants from a private foundation, the Armenise Foundation, plus a Telethon grant for Martello, after spending years in centers of excellence worldwide, Lunardi at Harvard Medical School and Martello at the University of Cambridge.

Let us start from the end. What is the focus of your researches and why did you decide to come back?

AL: I am a biologist and in recent years I was involved in research on cancer, particularly prostate cancer, under the lead of Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Director of the Cancer Research Institute at the Beth Israel deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School of Boston. Together with a team of American colleagues, I developed the Co-Clinical Trial Approach, a new translational platform based on the enrollment of faithful genetically engineered mouse models of human tumors in specific treatments that perfectly mirror the clinical trial in human patients. I worked in the United States for years, knowing that I would be back in Italy after a few years, and now I had the opportunity to do so, bringing in my country the skills acquired in a center of excellence like the Harvard Medical School. I then tried to obtain funding and I won the Armenise scholarship, which allowed me to come back. Trento seemed to be the best destination for me at the moment, since it is a dynamic reality that is recruiting many new resources focusing on quality.

GM: My research combines experimental and computational methods to understand what controls the behavior of embryonic stem cells. I decided to return to Italy after four years in Cambridge because it was my desire since I started my activity abroad, and I think that if you want to return, once arrived at a certain moment you should try.  I was very lucky because I had the opportunity to go back to the University where I studied, which is an excellent research center at both Italian and international level. The funding I have obtained have been obviously fundamental: I got both the Armenise and the Telethon Scholarships, which will cover my project for five years.

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